Staar Surgical CEO Caren Mason leaves

  • After almost eight years in the position
  • Accolades, praise and thanks for Mason
  • Tom Frinzi taking over
  • Mason said 66 words

(exechange) — Lake Forest, California, December 19, 2022 — Caren Mason, chief executive of Staar Surgical, leaves her position. As announced by Staar Surgical Co. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Monday, December 19, 2022, Caren Mason leaves her post as chief executive officer at the manufacturer of implantable lenses for the eye, after almost eight years in the role, effective December 31, 2022.

The average tenure of CEOs who announced their departure over the past 12 months was 8.2 years. This is according to data collected by CEO-exit research firm exechange.

exechange tracks CEO departures at the 3,000 largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., examines the reasons CEOs leave and determines the Push‑out Score™, a measure of pressure on departing chief executives on a scale of 0 to 10.

Caren Mason’s duties as CEO will be taken over by Thomas G. (Tom) Frinzi, currently Chair of the Board at Staar Surgical Co.

No reason given

In the announcement, Staar Surgical did not explicitly explain the reason for the move.

The top three reasons cited in corporate announcements for CEO departures over the past 12 months are performance issues (26.9% of cases), implementation of a planned succession (16.5%) and the statement that the time was right for a change (8.6%), according to exechange data. Other motives given for leadership changes included the outgoing CEO’s wish to pursue other opportunities (6.4% of cases), personal reasons (3.1%) and conduct issues (2.4%). Rather rarely stated reasons are health problems (2.1% of cases), career change (2.1%), the desire for more time with family (0.9%), disagreement (0.6%) and death (0.6%). Sometimes, more than one reason was given. In 29.7% of cases, no reason was given.

Precise information regarding Caren Mason’s future plans was not immediately available.


Staar Surgical said: “President and Chief Executive Officer Caren Mason will be retiring December 31, 2022, after leading the company through a significant period of revitalization and growth for more than seven years.”

Generally, retirements are seen as formally voluntary departures. Still, CEOs may also be pressured to accelerate their retirement plans. In fact, 31% of the time “retire” was used in the past 12 months, the CEO departure received a Push-out Score above the critical threshold of 5, indicating elevated pressure.

“Not the result of any dispute”

Staar Surgical stated, regarding the change: “Ms. Mason’s retirement is not the result of any dispute or disagreement with the Company, its Board, or its management, or any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”

Share price decline since December 2021

The announcement follows a decline in Staar Surgical Co.’s share price of 40% since December 2021.

In the position of CEO since 2015

Caren Mason became CEO of the Company in 2015.

To ensure a seamless transition, Mason has agreed to serve in an advisory role through December 31, 2023.

Mason was elected to Staar’s Board of Directors at its 2014 Annual Meeting, and she has served as Staar’s Chief Executive Officer since March 1, 2015.

From 2010 to 2012, Mason served as Chief Executive Officer of Verinata Health, Inc. (f/k/a Artemis Health, Inc.), a provider of non-invasive prenatal genetic sequencing tests.

In February 2013, Verinata was acquired by Illumina.

Mason served as the President, Chief Executive Officer and a Director of Quidel Corporation from 2004 to 2009, a publicly traded company engaged in the development, manufacturing and marketing of rapid diagnostic solutions at the professional point of care in infectious diseases and reproductive health.

Prior to joining Quidel, Mason provided consultative services from 2003 to 2004 for Eastman Kodak Health Imaging as a result of the sale of MiraMedica, Inc., to Eastman Kodak.

She served as President and Chief Executive Officer for MiraMedica, Inc., an early phase start-up developing computer aided detection software for oncology, from 2002 through 2003.

Prior to her tenure with MiraMedica, Inc., Mason served as Chief Executive Officer of eMed Technologies of Lexington, Massachusetts, a teleradiology and picture archiving and communications systems business.

Mason served as General Manager of the Women’s Healthcare business and as a General Manager in various capacities for the Services business of General Electric Healthcare from 1996 to 2000.

Mason’s additional healthcare experience includes her tenure with Bayer AG/AGFA from 1989 to 1996 where she last held the positions of Senior Vice President for Bayer Corporate Health Care and Senior Vice President for the AGFA Technical Imaging Business Group.

Mason began her career in healthcare with American Hospital Supply/Baxter Healthcare in sales, marketing and managerial roles from 1977 through 1988.

Mason received her B.A. from Indiana University.

66 words by Caren Mason

In the news release announcing her departure as CEO of Staar Surgical Co., Caren Mason received accolades, praise and thanks.

In the announcement of the leadership change, Caren Mason said 66 words.

“Have great confidence in Tom”

Caren Mason stated: “Serving as CEO of Staar Surgical has been the highlight of my career. I am proud of Staar’s accomplishments under my leadership over the past seven years, and I am grateful for the many dedicated professionals around the world who make Staar such a phenomenal company. I look forward to watching Staar’s continued success and have great confidence in Tom and the amazing Staar leadership team.”

Over the past 12 months, 26% of all outgoing CEOs remained silent in the departure announcement, according to data compiled by exechange. Departing CEOs who did make a statement said an average of 109 words. The longest statement was 382 words. The shortest statement was 23 words. Leadership transitions in which departing CEOs provide conspicuously short, excessively long or no explanations for their move are statistically associated with elevated pressure and show an increased incidence of Push-out Scores above the critical threshold of 5.

33% of CEOs are forced out or fired

When CEO departures are announced, exechange determines the Push-out Score on a scale of 0 to 10 to assess how likely it is that the chief executive was pushed out or felt pressure to leave the position, with 0 being most likely a voluntary move and 10 being most likely a forced exit. Anything over a 5 indicates that there are valid reasons to believe an executive may have been pushed out.

Of the 327 CEO departures in the Russell 3000 Index evaluated over the past 12 months (December 19, 2021, to December 18, 2022), the average Push-out Score was 5.6, according to exechange data. References to conduct issues, disagreements and irregularities lead to the highest Push-out Scores. When time with family, performance issues or other opportunities were cited as departure reasons, the average Push-out Scores were also significantly elevated.

Around 33% of the CEO departure events from the past 12 months received Push-out Scores of 8 or higher.

In other words, in the past 12 months, three in 10 departing CEOs were forced out or fired.

Pressure in the health care sector well above the critical threshold

Some industries are under generally higher pressure than others, and CEOs are feeling the strain. In the past 12 months, the communication, consumer staples and health care sectors showed the highest average Push-out Scores. By contrast, pressure on CEOs was lowest in the real estate, industrials and financials sectors, as measured by average Push-out Scores.

In the health care sector, which includes Staar Surgical Co., the average Push-out Score over the past 12 months was 6.7, which is well above the critical threshold of 5.

In the health care sector, 24 exiting CEOs received Push-out Scores of 8 or higher over the past 12 months, indicating that they were most likely forced out or faced strong pressure to step down.

Closer look at female CEOs

Female CEOs in the U.S. have been found to be more likely to be pushed out than male CEOs. Over the past 12 months, outgoing female CEOs have received an average Push-out Score of 6.4, substantially above the average Push-out Score of 5.6 for outgoing male CEOs.

Female CEOs have a 32% shorter tenure. Women in the role step down after an average tenure of 5.7 years, compared with 8.4 years for men, the exechange data shows, which covers 23 departing female CEOs and 304 departing male CEOs.

On a five-year view, departing female CEOs received an average Push-out Score of 5.8, which was significantly higher than the average Push-out Score of 5.3 for departing male CEOs. This suggests that women were more likely to be pushed out than men, even when using a longer observation period. This is evident from exechange data covering 1,403 CEO departures (84 of them women and 1,319 men) from 2017 to 2021. Female CEOs who announced their departure from 2017 to 2021 had a 26% shorter tenure, exiting after an average of 6.6 years, compared with 8.9 years for men, the exechange data shows.

Push-out Score for Caren Mason’s move determined

The Push-out Score regarding Caren Mason’s move is explained point by point in the exechange report.

exechange reached out to Staar Surgical and offered the company the opportunity to comment on the score.

Read the full story in the exechange report 52.2022 ($).